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Just right for family outings

A lush lawn, play area for children and ducks... the setting is idyllic at the Bella Ciao restaurant in Kottivakkam. What's more, one can savour the choicest of Italian fare...

THE VERY name Bella Ciao sent positive signals to me as I have had excellent, value for money food at that little place on the Besant Nagar, Second Avenue.

The noise and dust of the road or the lack of adequate space mattered little when olive oil and garlic flavour hit the palate.

The restaurant's new address is Sri Krishna Enclave, off Water Land Drive, Kottivakkam.

A lush lawn, indoor and outdoor service, more items on the menu, a play area, ducks, fish and a gorgeous boxer dog to keep kids company — it was a near perfect setting for a family outing.

The choice was wide, so to fortify ourselves to tackle the menu, we chose crostino al prosciutto (Rs.70) or ham and cheese on toast, and bruschetta al pomodor (Rs. 60) or tomato, garlic and olive oil on toast.

They tasty starters and gave us the courage to wade through the Italian names and descriptions.

The main courses comprised chicken soup with mint, zuppa di polloalla (Rs.70). The soup was rich and creamy, with a few mint leaves to lend it a distinct flavour.

Casareccia pasta — for us it was farfalle — with cauliflower, broccoli and olives, was an engaging combo.

But, there was exactly one broccoli floret in the dish, that too a decapitated one. The quantity didn't make up for the missing vegetables either. At Rs.140, it is difficult to overlook the lapse.

The fritto misto (Rs.170), an assortment of fried seafood, came with the best tartare sauce I have eaten in recent times.

Though the fried calamari was good, it was the sauce that stole the show. The name, Al Capone, was irresistible.

The pizza with bacon, sausage and mushroom (Rs.250) was unique. If you are tired of the all-encompassing taste of tomato in the American style pizzas, go for this true blue one.

Tiramisu (Rs.60) and Lemon mousse (Rs.70) were the choice for desserts.

The Tiramisu did what its name suggests; give us (me) a lift. The second one too was tasty. Though the original mascarpone cheese is not expected for Tiramisu, it is not so pretty to see egg whites turning liquid in a mousse.

May be it's my memory because memories tend to be annoyingly rosy, but the food is not the same as before.

It is hard to overlook burnt pizza crusts, absent vegetables, watery mousses and lessening quantity when prices are upmarket.

MARIEN MATHEW

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